Volume 3 Issue 4
From the Editor
By Holly Krutka, Cornerstone
As this issue of Cornerstone goes to press, world leaders are meeting in Paris, France, for the COP21 negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Momentum for the meetings has long been building, and future issues of Cornerstone will cover the outcomes, as they pertain to the coal industry and the broader energy community. As we have done in the past, we will continue to focus on policy approaches and technologies—including high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power plants and carbon capture, utilization, and storage—which enable coal utilization in a carbon-constrained world.
By Jason Hayes, American Coal Council
Nearly 8.2 billion tonnes of coal were produced globally in 2014. Although a great deal of activity occurs around the extraction of coal, a limited amount of land is disturbed during mining compared to total landmass. For example, Natural Resources Canada has estimated that less than 0.01% of Canada’s total landmass was used in metal and mineral mining in over 100 years. Similarly, Haigh estimated that mining affected 0.16% of the U.S.landmass from 1940 to 1971. However, even if mining affects a relatively small amount of land, its impact can be significant and the extractive industries have an ethical and often legal obligation to return land to productivity.
By Michael Roche, Queensland Resources Council
Coal is a cornerstone of Queensland’s economy and is responsible for more than half the value of the state’s merchandise exports of AU$47 billion in 2014. Despite challenging market conditions, coal exports also reached a new record of 216 million tonnes in 2014—an amount that is on track to be exceeded in 2015.
By Samuela Bassi, London School of Economics and Political Science
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) can play a considerable role in tackling global climate change. By capturing CO2 and storing it underground, CCS allows coal- and gas-fired power stations to produce low-emissions electricity. Furthermore, it is the only technology that can reduce carbon emissions from large industrial installations, such as steel and cement plants. If successfully applied to bio-energy generators, CCS technology could also result in “negative emissions”, that is, it could actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
By Roger Bezdek, Management Information Services, Inc.
On 2 June 2014, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and using the authority of Clean Air Act (CAA) section 111(d), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed guidelines, termed the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to reduce CO2 emissions from existing fossil-fueled power generating units. In early August 2015, the EPA released the CPP final rule, which is stricter than the initial proposal. EPA contends that the CPP would achieve CO2 emission reductions from the power sector of 32% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
By Jim Meier, Arch Coal
Coal is an important, naturally occurring energy source that provides numerous life-enhancing benefits to the global community. Out of respect for the land that bears this valuable resource, Arch Coal is committed to superior environmental protection during each phase of the mining process. Protecting the environment carries such importance that upholding strong safety and environmental values is a key element in Arch’s four-point operating strategy.
By Juan Garcia and Martin Stearns, Colowyo Mine
In northwestern Colorado, U.S., coal mining has been a critical part of the culture and economy since the turn of the 20th century. The history of the Colowyo Mine (Colowyo), currently operated by Western Fuels-Colorado, LLC, and owned by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. (Tri-State), dates back to 1908 when the underground Collom Mine operated in the 24-foot-thick Collom coal seam. Starting in 1976, Colowyo transitioned to a highly efficient multiseam dragline and truck-shovel surface mine that today produces approximately 2.5 million tons per year of high-quality, low-sulfur, sub-bituminous coal that is used for coal-fired electrical generation.
By Chen Anming and Zhang Liangui, Yanzhou Coal Mining Co., Ltd.
Yancoal Australia (Yancoal), a coal mining company that operates exclusively in Australia, but is majority-owned by the Chinese company Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd., produces thermal and metallurgical coal from its seven mines, most of which are opencast, located in some of the Australia’s richest coal reserves in New South Wales and Queensland. The company also manages an opencast mine in Western Australia’s Collie Coal Basin south of Perth and an open cut mine in Queensland’s Surat Basin on behalf of Yanzhou. Yancoal also has access to key port and rail infrastructure, including shareholdings or allocated capacity in major coal terminals.
By A.M. Shah, Cornerstone
Unlike much of the world, India is expecting fast growth in the near term—in the second quarter of 2015, the country reported GDP growth at a rate of 7%. The country registered US$31 billion in foreign direct investment in FY15—up 27% over the previous year. Most in the current federal government believe that India’s economy will grow by as much as 9% by 2019. In addition to this projected economic growth, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s “Make In India” campaign—an initiative to push domestic manufacturing—will require India to have access to reliable energy, which is underpinned by recent mining-sector growth of 4% and electricity growth of 3.2%.
By Karel Prach, University of Ceské Budejovice and Czech Academy of Sciences
Despite a recent decline, mining has a long tradition in the Czech Republic and continues to represent an important part of the country’s economy. Thus, the mining industry continues to have a significant impact on landscape and nature in the country—about 0.8% of the area has been directly affected by various mining activities, not including historical mining. In total, the amount of land impacted by mining in the Czech Republic is close to the world average, about 1%. Coal mining contributes the most to this figure, followed by stone quarrying and sand and gravel extraction.
By Louis Wibberley, CSIRO
The power plants serving tomorrow’s electricity grid must overcome challenges that include higher penetration of renewables, and thus a need for increased flexibility, lower emissions, and water constraints. Even as these challenges are met, electricity will need to remain affordable. While DICE (direct injection carbon engine) is unlikely to displace ultra-supercritical baseload generation, the technology presents a very real chance to use coal to follow dramatic load changes in markets with high renewables penetration and to add smaller electricity generation in remote areas without reliable grid access.
By Liu Zhijiang, Shenhua Group Co., Ltd.
Primary energy reserves in China are largely based on coal, with small contributions from oil and gas. In fact, coal accounts for over 90% of China’s total fossil energy reserves, meaning that China will continue to rely heavily on coal over the long term. However, China is working to reduce the environmental footprint of coal utilization, including emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and CO2. Thus, a major focus in the country is to increase the use of high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal technologies and meet the dual objectives of providing power and realizing environmental and social responsibility.
By Larry Baxter, Sustainable Energy Solutions and Brigham Young University
Reducing global carbon emissions requires a a diverse portfolio of low-emissions technologies, including renewable energy and carbon capture and storage (i.e., CCS and CCUS). Without using the full portfolio of low-emission options, the costs for reducing global emissions will be higher and the probability of successful climate change mitigation decreases. Each technology, however, faces its own set of challenges. Sustainable Energy Solutions (SES) has developed a low-cost, integrated energy storage and CO2 capture technology, called Cryogenic Carbon CaptureTM (CCC), that can help address the major challenges faced by renewables and CCS.
By Holly Krutka, Cornerstone
Dr. Li Yong-Wang is the founder and president of Synfuels China Technology Co., Ltd., a Beijing-based company focusing on advanced conversion technologies for coal, natural gas, and other energy assets since 2006. Dr. Li has also built up a series of subsidiary companies around the world. Synfuels China’s business is founded upon the expertise gained from research and development (R&D), three operational coal-to-liquid (CTL) plants, and the construction of the largest CTL plant in the world—producing 100,000 barrels of liquids per day (bpd), with an investment of about US$10 billion.